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Review: Shadowman #11

The final showdown!

Shadowman #11

At long last, Shadowman is unbound…and it couldn’t have come at a worse time! Finally free from the Boniface lineage after generations of torment, the loa that once shared its gifts with Jack Boniface must now be convinced to join his cause willingly…or else the Brethren will lay waste to everything Jack holds dear!

Whenever a series ends prematurely – whether that’s due to a lack of sales, or not – there’s always the fear that the story won’t end as well as was originally planned if the number of issues allotted are shaved down. While I’m not sure if that’s the case here, there is a lot of story packed into the pages of Shadowman #11 than there has been in the last couple of issues. This has the effect of giving the comic a very retro feel; comics from the 90’s and before always seem to pack a lot of dialogue and text within the pages in comparison to more modern offerings.

Whilst I’m a fan of older comic

s, where Shadowman #11 stumbles is a lack of clarity in some sequences as the scenes transition – the art, while astonishingly brilliant to look at, doesn’t always have the backgrounds necessary to indicate a transition without narrative explanation. Unfortunately, his left me reeling a couple of times during my read through wondering if I’d missed a page, or a text box, or if I needed more caffeine.

That being said, the issue’s pacing is relentless, and hits you with one development after another – it’s the kind of comic that feels like it’s absolutely worth the money you’re spending on the book, even with the occasional stumble.

Andy Diggle closes out his time with Shadowman on a high after taking the character on a journey full of revelations and character growth as he fleshed out the mythology and history of Jack Boniface and the shadow loa. It was a successful run, and one capped off with an explosive and action fueled issue that ties up enough loose ends that you’re not left with a sense that too much is dangling in the ether waiting for a resolution that’ll probably never come, but rather with anticipation for Shadowman’s next stage.

As has been mentioned already the art by Renato Guedes and Eric Battle is spectacular, although the comic would have been stronger had there been a few more backgrounds used during scene changes or passages of time. For the most part, though, there’s very little to bemoan in regards to the artistic offering here, and credit for that should also be given to Ulises Arreola‘s colouring that goes a little way toward helping the eye follow the story breaks if you pay attention to the background colours.

As a conclusion to an eleven issue run, this is a strong comic. Diggle puts a cherry on top of a run that’s added a lot to Shadowman’s lore whilst wrapping up the story satisfactorily. Although you’re not likely to buy this issue if you haven’t at least read the final arc, you can at least rest assured that once you’ve caught up, this is a really solid cap to a brilliant run. I’m looking forward to seeing what Andy Diggle has in store for us next.

Story: Andy Diggle Art: Renato Guedes with Eric Battle
Colours: Ulises Arreola Letters: Simon Bowland
Story: 8.8 Art: 8.1 Overall: 8.2 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Shadowman #10

Shadowman #10

Darque Destruction!

Sandria Darque’s vile plans are finally clicking into place… With his allies incapacitated, it’s up to Jack Boniface to stop the machinations of this vengeful sorceress – but can he trust in his ability to control the loa spirit bound to him, or will he have to face an ageless enemy completely alone?

Shadowman #10 is a comic so close to excellence that it is oddly frustrating. The  comic, written by Andy Diggle  with art by Renato Guedes and Eric Battle, and colours by Ulises Arreola, is very interesting to look at. The art in this comic, primarily handled by Guedes, is fantastic. There’s a lifelike realism to the pages where details jump out at you, grabbing your eyes by ink-stained fingers and pulling your attention to each and every page in your hand.

Ultimately, though, it’s within the intricately layered story where this reviewer’s frustration with the comic lays. Diggle brings a lot of the elements he had introduced earlier in his run back to play a part here (which is fantastic), but also relies upon the reader having read most, if not all, of Shadowman’s previous appearances since the Valiant relaunch in 2012. Material that, I haven’t fully read (specifically the first Shadowman series). So while there is just enough info provided for me to enjoy the series couple with my previous reading of Rapture and Operation Deadside (a self contained miniseries and an arc in Ninjak respectively), if you’re unfamiliar with either of those then you may struggle a little here – but if you’ve read the series thus far then there’s every chance that you’ll be more than able to follow the book along to a rather brilliant pay off that’s been building for several issues. 

Although it will undoubtedly be a benefit for you if you have read the entire Shadowman saga to date, it won’t be a gamebreaker if you haven’t. But, because of my annoyingly innate desire to know everything, I was a touch frustrated with the seemingly casual references to things I had no idea about, but can’t deny enjoying that Diggle has spent time researching the character and his previous appearances.

Ultimately what bothered me mot about the book may not be on your radar at all (like I said it’s an annoying desire), and so being aware of that I tried not to let that influence my judgement of a comic that propels the story forward into what promises to be at the very least an interesting and powerful conclusion that will set Shadowman up for some freaking amazing stories in the future.

Story: Andy Diggle Art: Renato Guedes and Eric Battle
Colours: Ulises Arreola Letters: Simon Bowland
Story: 8.3 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review, but I picked up my own copy.

Review: Shadowman #9

SM2018_009_COVER-B_GRANTEvery family has skeletons in their closet…but these ones are ready to kill!

As Jack Boniface and Alyssa Miles hunt for the remains of Master Darque, their search brings them to the enchanted home of his sorceress sister – none other than Sandria Darque herself! Face to unearthly face with the sorceress responsible for binding his fate to that of the deadly shadow loa, Jack now stands at a crossroads… Will he achieve his greatest desire and free himself from the monster within?

Shadowman #9 begins to tie a lot of threads together that Andy Diggle has been letting dangle ever since he first took on the series. Whether it’s the early interactions between Jack and the Brethren, Jack’s journey through the history of the Shadowman or the growing threat of Master Darque, if you’ve been with the series for the past eight issues, you’re going to start to see a lot of things begin to come together. That’s not to say that new readers will be out in the cold – Diggle has still written a very compelling comic, and one that anybody can hop into. But he certainly is rewarding those who’ve been around the block with ol’ Jack Boniface.

The overwhelming impression the last issue left on me was just how special the art was… well for the most part that’s true again. The art, by Renato Guedes, remains fantastic; blending a touch of the classical styles into a comic book script that compliments the mystical nature of the character. It’s undoubtedly the highlight of this issue, and watching how Guedes moves the story along was worth my price of admission alone. However, Guedes isn’t the sole artist this time around; the superbly named Eric Battle takes charge for a few interspersed pages (coloured by Ulises Arreola), and the effect is almost jarring. Battle and Arreola make a great pairing, but the team isn’t as complementary to Guedes’ style as one would hope.

There’s a touch more development when it comes to the plot with this issue than last, and once again the comic is visually spectacular. I said it last month and I’ll say it again – some of the pages here should make non-comics folks rethink their definition of fine art.  I’ve every intention of adding this to my collection on release day, because Shadowman #9 is another brilliant addition to the Valiant library – and is once again one of the best visual experiences I’ve had in comics.

Story: Andy Diggle Art: Renato Guedes and Eric Battle
Colors: Ulises Arreola Letters: Simon Bowland
Story: 8.2 Art: 8.8 Overall: 8.6 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Shadowman Vol. 1 Fear of the Dark TPB

SHADOWMAN VOL. 1: FEAR OF THE DARK TPB

Written by ANDY DIGGLE
Art by STEPHEN SEGOVIA with ADAM POLLINA
Colors by ULISES ARREOLA with DAVID BARON
Letters by SIMON BOWLAND
Cover by TONCI ZONJIC (MAY182101)
$9.99 | 112 pgs. | T+ | On Sale JULY 18th
TRADE PAPERBACK | ISBN: 978-1-68215-239-3

DON’T FEAR YOUR DEMONS…FIGHT THEM!

Orphaned as a child and raised on the margins of society, Jack Boniface never knew his place in the world. Until he discovered it waiting for him… in a darkness far older than the reign of men…

Unbeknownst to him, Jack was fated to become the next in a long lineage of Shadowmen – mortals bound to loas, violent voodoo spirits of immense power – that could safeguard our world against incursions from realms beyond.

For years, Jack struggled to control his loa’s murderous urges – a battle he eventually lost.

But now, after years of self-imposed exile, the man once known as Shadowman is returning home to sharpen the weapon within…and unleash a reckoning on the evils of our world that will soon send shockwaves through heaven and hell alike…

Shadowman storms his way to the forefront of the Valiant Universe – more powerful, more terrifying, and more relentless than ever before – in an adrenaline-fueled ongoing series from superstar writer Andy Diggle (Green Arrow: Year One, The Losers) and high-octane artist Stephen Segovia (Action Comics)!

Collecting SHADOWMAN (2018) #1–3.

Review: Shadowman #3

SM2018_003_COVER-B_GUEDES“After years of purgatorial exile, Jack Boniface – the newly returned Shadowman – is back in the one place he thought he’d left behind for good: the damned dimension known as Deadside! His mission? To recover a lost relic of the Shadowman legacy that could redefine the eternal balance of power between the living and the dead. If he fails, the vengeful voodoo god called Baron Samedi will exact a terrible toll on the souls of humanity… But – back among the monsters, back among the cursed – can Jack stand resolutely against evil incarnate without succumbing to the call of the literal demons within himself?”

I’ve been really enjoying this series thus far, which I’m somewhat surprised at seeing as how I’ve had minimal exposure to the character over the past few years. Despite owning the entire 2012 relaunch, I’ve never actually read all of it (the downside to obsessive collecting, I suppose). Shadowman #3 finds our hero full of impotent rage as he discovers that, once again, he is trapped within the Deadside with only one option to return to the land of the living; stealing the Shadow Scythe back from Baron Samedi.

What follows is a fairly standard, albeit well presented, distract and steal story as Shadowman’s ally in our world offers him a chance to steal back the Scythe that will return him to full power. The dialogue between Alyssa and the newly arrived Abettors, the group/cult/whatever that assist the Shadowman, is a particular highlight and balances the Deadside sequences remarkably well as we dip back and forth between the two in a fluidly orchestrated dance through the comic’s music (incidentally, I was listening to Ghost’s BC album while reading this comic. It was an interesting combination, to say the least).

Although I wouldn’t suggest avoiding the previous two issues in the series and starting to read Shadowman with the third issue, it is possible for you to pick up the gist of what’s going on with the events depicted here in conjunction with the recap page. The creative team have produced a comic where musical tones permeate every facet of the art and dialogue, often in very subtle ways, and the song carries you along through the pages to the conclusion in a way that doesn’t allow for any external distractions. Shadowman #3 is a creepy and atmospheric issue with colourful musical undertones that swirl together into a cacophony of emotional brilliance (forgive the constant musical references; the album I’ve been listening to along with the 90’s era Shadowman I read as part of the Unity crossover left me with an impression).

Although it’s not a perfect comic, it is still very enjoyable.

Story: Andy Diggle Art: Stephen Segovia with Adam Polina
Colours: Ulises Arreola and David Baron Letters: Simon Bowland
Story: 8.3 Art: 8.8 Overall: 8.6 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Valiant Free Comic Book Day Shadowman Special

VALIANT_FCBD_2018_COVER_DELATORRESuperstar writer Andy Diggle and high-octane artist Stephen Segovia present an all-new introduction to Shadowman as Jack Boniface reemerges from the Deadside to reclaim his birthright… and forges a new legend of magic, might, and malice for the long-awaited return of Valiant’s most-demanded hero! Then, New York Times best-selling writer Matt Kindt and legendary artist Ariel Olivetti return Aric of Dacia to Earth in X-O Manowar – just in time for the seismic comics event of 2018! Finally, Academy Award-nominated writer Eric Heisserer and artists Raúl Allén and Patricia Martín plunge the whole of the Valiant Universe into an epic power struggle in the prelude to Harbinger Wars 2!

If you pick up Valiant‘s 2018 Free Comic Book Day release on May 5th, you’ll be treated to snippets from three different Valiant series. Snippets from comics already published, but none of which have more than two issues out in the arc you would be starting with if you were to look further into the respective series after picking this taster up, and aside from the first issue of Shadowman all the comics this Free Comic Book Day Special encourages you to pick up have been released within the last couple of weeks.

Regardless, on to the stories.

The first taster you will get comes in the form of Shadowman. With seven pages from the first issue you get juuuuust enough to encourage you to go hunting for the first and second issues in the newly relaunched series, but not quite enough of the story that will make you feel like paying for the first issue is a waste of money. Andy Diggle (writer), Stephen Segovia (art) and Ulises Arreola (colours) have already delivered two issues of a high quality, and the seven pages you’ll see here are indicative of that. You can find reviews of the first issue here and the second here. For those interested, the first half of Black Sabbath’s first album makes an excellent audio companion (I say first half because I was listening to it on vinyl).

VALIANT_FCBD_2018_004

Up next is an excerpt from X-O Manowar #14, which was reviewed here. This arc finds Aric of Dacia returning to Earth after a lengthy absence (possibly around two years) only to discover that things have moved on without him. But you don’t get that in this six page preview, you only get to see part of his journey from deep space back to Earth. Matt Kindt‘s  script is given a stunning visual treatment by Ariel Olivetti, and although there were some questionable backgrounds in the rest of the comic, what you get here is an utterly fantastic piece of art. Audio companion: the second half of Black Sabbath’s first album.

Finally there are the first six pages of Harbinger Wars II: Prelude #1, a comic that was released May 2nd (yes, this week), which you can find a full review of here. Valiant’s big summer event will kick off next month, and this preview will give you a perfect taste of what Eric HeissererRaul Allen and Patricia Martin have in store for you in the rest of the prelude comic. Audio companion: silence, because the record player doesn’t repeat the album. It was oddly fitting, however.

For those hoping for a new short story starring Shadowman in the same vein as last year’s X-O Manowar FCBD Special you will be disappointed as the comic is essentially just an extended print based preview of three of Valiant’s current series. Which, ironically enough, is perfect for Free Comic Book Day and those who may not already be reading all three of these series like myself. If you see this in your comic shop on Saturday, and you’re at all curious about Valiant, then this is a must… uh… pick up.

Review: Shadowman #2

SM2018_002_COVER-A_ZONJIC“Baron Samedi calls!

Jack Boniface has only just returned home to New Orleans…but the Deadside won’t let him stay gone! From across the veil of life and death, the malignant presence of Baron Samedi – a ravenous voodoo deity bent on consolidating power at all costs – now seeks to infiltrate the mortal plane and claim the legacy of Shadowman for himself! But even as Jack and Alyssa marshal a defense to Samedi’s inhuman agenda, a monstrous new force – driven by killer instinct and a rabid hatred of the Shadowman – is about to turn the Big Easy’s back alleys into a hunting ground…”

Of all the Valiant characters I’ve read about over the last three years I’ve been obsessed with a fan of the publisher, Shadowman is one of the ones with which I am not as familiar with. That hasn’t been a concern with this series, however, as despite the storied history of the character, Andy Diggle crafts a tale that can be read by newcomer and long time fan alike.

As a newly returned Jack Boniface struggles to adjust to life in the living world after spending months, if not years, in the Deadside, the responsibilities of the Shadowman continue to pull. Shadowman #2 opens the conflict between Shadowman and the antagonist in an organic way that doesn’t feel forced or contrived. In doing this, Diggle gives Stephen Segovia the ability to sink his teeth into some brilliant action scenes whilst also crafting an incredible visual journey with each page.

At the end of the day, Shadowman #2 is a really solid comic, but unfortunately I really don’t have much to say about it other than you should read it if you’ve even half an interest in the character or publisher. You don’t need to know everything about Shadowman to enjoy this comic, though I’m sure it helps, because Diggle, Segovia and colourist Ulises Arreola have delivered a comic that is a wonderful addition to any pull list.

You can’t go wrong reading Shadowman.

Story: Andy Diggle Artist: Stephen Segovia Colourist: Ulises Arreola
Story: 8.4 Art: 8.8 Overall: 8.6 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Shadowman (2018) #2

SHADOWMAN (2018) #2

Written by ANDY DIGGLE
Art by STEPHEN SEGOVIA
Colors by ULISES ARREOLA
Lettering by SIMON BOWLAND
Cover A by TONCI ZONJIC (FEB181885)
Cover B by RENATO GUEDES (FEB181886)
Interlocking Variant by JUAN JOSÉ RYP (FEB181888)
Shadowman Icon Variant by BEN TEMPLESMITH (FEB181889)
Pre-Order Edition by RAÚL ALLÉN (JAN182006)
Blank Cover Also Available (FEB181887)
Editor WARREN SIMMONS
Assistant Editor BENJAMIN PETERSON
$3.99 | 32 pgs. | T+ | On Sale APRIL 25th

Baron Samedi calls!

Jack Boniface has only just returned home to New Orleans…but the Deadside won’t let him stay gone! From across the veil of life and death, the malignant presence of Baron Samedi – a ravenous voodoo deity bent on consolidating power at all costs – now seeks to infiltrate the mortal plane and claim the legacy of Shadowman for himself! But even as Jack and Alyssa marshal a defense to Samedi’s inhuman agenda, a monstrous new force – driven by killer instinct and a rabid hatred of the Shadowman – is about to turn the Big Easy’s back alleys into a hunting ground…

“FEAR OF THE DARK” stalks forward as superstar writer Andy Diggle (Green Arrow: Year One) and incendiary artist Stephen Segovia (NINJAK) bring a hard-hitting reckoning of magic and might to Valiant’s must-read new series launch of 2018!

Review: Ninjak Vs The Valiant Universe #4

NJKVS_004_COVER-A_LEVELHis allies have turned against him. His last options have been exhausted. And there is nowhere left to run. Now, Ninjak – the rogue super-spy turned against his former masters by the cunning assassin called Roku – must face the final revelation of his no-holds-barred showdown with the heroes of the Valiant Universe. Bloodied but unbowed, Colin King’s gauntlet ends here…and Valiant’s first-of-its-kind crossover between live action and the comic book page is about to come to an explosive finale that will leave you stunned!

Alright so I’m not to try to sugar coat anything, but in an effort to refrain from an angry rant, I’ve used bullet points to gather my thoughts about Ninjak Vs The Valiant Universe #4.

  • This four issue miniseries is set in a separate universe from the rest of Valiant’s comics. If you read this prior to anything else, expect to be a little confused when things aren’t the same (but happy that the writing is better).
  • If you consider a “first-of-its-kind” crossover to be an adaptation of live action and comics, you’re behind a couple decades. This may be the first crossover from webseries to comics, however. Maybe  that’s what they mean.
  • Expecting the typical quality that you would ordinarily get from a direct tie-in comic (and not an adaptation like, say, the Bloodborne comics are adapted from the videogames) will leave little room for dissapointment.
  • Eliot Rahal is a much better comic book writer than he’s showing here, because at the end of the day he’s only got so much to work with. You can only polish a turd so much, really, and even then it’s still a turd.
  • The art by Joe BennettBelardino Brabo and Ulises Arreola remain the only saving grace for an issue that caps off perhaps the worst thing Valiant have published in the last three years.
  • If you want a better story starring all the Valiant characters read The Valiant. If you want a better Ninjak story look up Ninja-K or Bloodshot Salvation to get a small dash of Ninjak with Bloodshot.

I am oddly relieved this series is over, because it wasn’t really all that good (if you enjoyed it then fair play to you. I’m not saying you’re wrong, only that we hav different opinions). I tried to find the good in it (the art, mostly), but the pervading sense I got from the entire series was that it was a poor adaptation of another story. This doesn’t read like the kind of comic Valiant, or Eliot Rahal are capable of putting out, nor like the story was ever written for comics. It’s shoehorned into the four colour medium and it doesn’t work. Hopefully the webseries that this is adapted from will be better than the series, but after having read the comics I’m not holding out much hope of anything more than a brief diversion.

Screen story: Aaron Schoenke
Screenplay: Aaron Schoenke, Sean Schoenke, Joe Harris and Andrew Rowe
Comic Script
: Eliot Rahal Art: Joe Bennett
Ink: Belardino Brabo Color: Ulises Arreola
Story: 4.0 Art: 7.0 Overall: 5.0
Recommendation: Read it if you’ve come this far. Don’t start if you haven’t.

Thankfully, Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.

Preview: Suicide Squad #39

Suicide Squad #39

Story: Rob Williams
Art: Neil Edwards
Color: Ulises Arreola
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
Cover: Andy Kubert, Brad Anderson
Variant Cover: Andrea Sorrentino
Group Editor: Brian Cunningham
Editor: Mike Cotton
Assistant Editor: Andrew Marino
In Shops: Apr 11, 2018
SRP: $2.99

“BREAK THROUGH THE WALL” part two! The government loses control of its new military weapon, the Wall, and he’s rampaging through Washington, D.C. with his sights set on the Capitol building! Rick Flag is forced to turn back to the Suicide Squad to stop the Wall before Washington is in ruins!

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